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Problem solving strategy

   Have you ever had a problem that you wanted to solve but you didn´t know where to start? Problems aren´t always bad or complicated. A problem can be as simple as deciding whether to eat a chocolate chip cookie or an oatmeal cookie. But most of the time, the problems you will be solving in technology class are more complex than that. If you have steps to follow in trying to solve a problem, getting an answer is easier.

   The following is a step-by-step plan for solving problems. Once you learn a basic problem-solving strategy, you can use it to solve all kind of problems throughout your life.

1.- Define the problem (Identifying the problem)

   This is probably the most difficult step, because many problems are there but nobody realize.

  The definition of the problem is sometimes called the problem statement. Here are some examples of problem statements:

  • Build a bridge to span a river

  • Design a wind powered vehicle

  • Build an automatic garage gate

  • ...

2.- Collect information

   Once the problem is identified, you need to gather information related to your problem. You need to use as many different resources as possible.

   Nowadays internet is the easier but not the only way to collect information. Use google, youtube, etc. Be careful in this step because you may waste time with so much information.

3.- Develop possible solutions

   After studying the information collected, explore ideas and propose different solutions.

4.- Selecting the best solution

   You select what you think is the best solution to try first. Many times your first solution will not work, and you must choose a different solution that might work better.

5.- Put the solution to work

   The fun part is testing your idea or solution. Testing usually requires taking measurements or notes about what´s happening.

6.- Evaluate the solution

   Sometimes you want so much for your idea to work that you do not look at the results carefully. Remembar that there may be many possible solutions to a problem. You may have to try many of them before you reach your final solution.

   If your first idea did not work, it doesn´t mean you failed. It just means you learned what doesn´t work. That is a big step toward solving the problem.


1.- What different resources might you use to research a topic?

2.- Copy in your notebook the "problem-solving process" drawing

3.- Find the meaning of each word in the "problem solving strategy" introduction paragraph.

4.- Apply your knowledge. Write a design brief for building a bridge across a river.

Example. Design brief: solar powered vehicle

   Design a solar-powered vehicle that will carry a minimum of two passengers at least 100 kilometers without needing recharging. The design budget is €10.000. The vehicle must meet the EEC safety standards for use on public highways.

Invention-Innovation-Inquiry The invention crusade. How an idea becomes an invention. PDF - Powerpoint

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